It is said that formalism contributed to the development of structuralism and focused on the structural characteristics that define a text as literature or poetry. Structuralist Poetics: Structuralism, Linguistics, and the Study of Literature . semantic store of the denotative, connotative, intentional, and association meaning. examine the difficulties of applying structural theory to poetry. Language . Because structuralists see the relation between sign and referent as arbi- trary, they.
All signs are cultural constructs that have taken on their meaning through repeated, learned, collective use. Structuralism was anticipated by the Myth Criticism of Northrop FryeRichard ChaseLeslie FiedlerDaniel HoffmanPhilip Wheelwright and others which drew upon anthropological and physiological bases of myths, rituals and folk tales to restore spiritual content to the alienated fragmented world ruled by scientism, empiricism and technology.
Myth criticism sees literature as a system based or recurrent patterns. The French social anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss applied the structuralist outlook to cultural phenomena like mythology, kinship relations and food preparation. He applied the principles of langue and parole in his search for the fundamental mental structures of the human mind.
Myths seem fantastic and arbitrary yet myths from different cultures are similar. Hence he concluded there must be universal laws that govern myths and all human thought. He breaks myths into smallest meaningful units called mythemes. Levi-Strauss showed how opposing ideas would fight and also be resolved in the rules of marriage, in mythology, and in ritual. In interpreting the Oedipus myth he placed the individual story of Oedipus within the context of the whole cycle of tales connected with the city of Thebes.
Concrete details from the story are seen in the context of a larger structure and the larger structure is then seen as an overall network of basic dyadic pairs which have obvious symbolic, thematic and archetypal resonance. This is the typical structuralist process of moving from the particular to the general placing the individual work within a wider structural content.
A very complex binary opposition introduced by Levi-Strauss is that of bricoleur savage mind and an engineer true craft man with a scientific mind. According to him, mythology functions more like a bricoleur, whereas modern western science works more like an engineer the status of modem science is ambivalent in his writings.
When a faucet breaks, the bricoleur stops the leak using a cloth, which is not actually meant for it. On the other hand the engineer foresees the eventuality and he would have either a spare faucet or all the spanners and bolts necessary to repair the tap. Roland Barthesthe other major figure in the early phase of structuralism later he turned to Post Structuralismapplied the structuralist analysis and semiology to broad cultural phenomena.
His work embodies transition from structuralist to poststructuralist perspectives. Certain works of his-have a Marxist perspective and some others deal with the concept of intertextualitya coinage by his student and associate Julia Kristeva. In Mythologies he examines modern France from the standpoint of a cultural theorist. It is an ideological critique of products of mass bourgeois culture, like soaps, advertisements, images of Rome etc.
According to Barthes, myth is a language, a mode of signification. The structure of myth repeats this tri-dimensional pattern. Myth is a second order signifying system illustrated by the image of the young Negro in a French uniform saluting the french flag, published as the cover page of the Parisian magazine, Paris Matchwhich reveals the myth of French imperialism at the connotative level.
Proairetic, hermeneutic, cultural, semic and symbolic, seeing these as the basic underlying structure of all narratives. The complexity and heterogeneity of structuralism, which is reflected even in the architecture of this period eg. Rather than simply compiling a list of which sounds occur in a language, the Prague school sought to examine how they were related.
They determined that the inventory of sounds in a language could be analysed in terms of a series of contrasts. Phonology would become the paradigmatic basis for structuralism in a number of different fields. Structural anthropology According to structural theory in anthropology and social anthropology, meaning is produced and reproduced within a culture through various practices, phenomena and activities that serve as systems of signification. A structuralist approach may study activities as diverse as food-preparation and serving rituals, religious rites, games, literary and non-literary texts, and other forms of entertainment to discover the deep structures by which meaning is produced and reproduced within the culture.
In addition to these studies, he produced more linguistically focused writings in which he applied Saussure's distinction between langue and parole in his search for the fundamental structures of the human mind, arguing that the structures that form the "deep grammar" of society originate in the mind and operate in people unconsciously. A third influence came from Marcel Mauss —who had written on gift-exchange systems. In the United States, authors such as Marshall Sahlins and James Boon built on structuralism to provide their own analysis of human society.
Structural anthropology fell out of favour in the early s for a number of reasons. D'Andrade suggests that this was because it made unverifiable assumptions about the universal structures of the human mind.
Authors such as Eric Wolf argued that political economy and colonialism should be at the forefront of anthropology.
More generally, criticisms of structuralism by Pierre Bourdieu led to a concern with how cultural and social structures were changed by human agency and practice, a trend which Sherry Ortner has referred to as ' practice theory '.
The Biogenetic Structuralism group for instance argued that some kind of structural foundation for culture must exist because all humans inherit the same system of brain structures. They proposed a kind of neuroanthropology which would lay the foundations for a more complete scientific account of cultural similarity and variation by requiring an integration of cultural anthropology and neuroscience —a program that theorists such as Victor Turner also embraced.
In literary theory and criticism[ edit ] Main article: Semiotic literary criticism In literary theorystructuralist criticism relates literary texts to a larger structure, which may be a particular genrea range of intertextual connections, a model of a universal narrative structureor a system of recurrent patterns or motifs.
Hence, everything that is written seems to be governed by specific rules, or a "grammar of literature", that one learns in educational institutions and that are to be unmasked. Structuralist readings focus on how the structures of the single text resolve inherent narrative tensions. If a structuralist reading focuses on multiple texts, there must be some way in which those texts unify themselves into a coherent system.
Structuralistic literary criticism argues that the "literary banter of a text" can lie only in new structure, rather than in the specifics of character development and voice in which that structure is expressed.
Structuralism – Literary Theory and Criticism
There is considerable similarity between structural literary theory and Northrop Frye 's archetypal criticism, which is also indebted to the anthropological study of myths. Some critics have also tried to apply the theory to individual works, but the effort to find unique structures in individual literary works runs counter to the structuralist program and has an affinity with New Criticism.
History and background[ edit ] Throughout the s and s, existentialismsuch as that propounded by Jean-Paul Sartrewas the dominant European intellectual movement. Structuralism rose to prominence in France in the wake of existentialism, particularly in the s. The initial popularity of structuralism in France led to its spread across the globe. Structuralism rejected the concept of human freedom and choice and focused instead on the way that human experience and thus, behaviour, is determined by various structures.
In Elementary Structures he examined kinship systems from a structural point of view and demonstrated how apparently different social organizations were in fact different permutations of a few basic kinship structures. In the late s he published Structural Anthropologya collection of essays outlining his program for structuralism.
By the early s structuralism as a movement was coming into its own and some believed that it offered a single unified approach to human life that would embrace all disciplines. Roland Barthes and Jacques Derrida focused on how structuralism could be applied to literature.